Reflections from the Transformative Youth Work International Conference (4-6th Sept. 2018)

The Professional Association was pleased to support the convening of the ‘Transformative Youth Work International Conference: Developing and Communicating Impact’ from 4th-6th September 2018, hosted by Plymouth Marjon’s University and part-funded by Erasmus+ Key Action 2 project fund.

The Association was represented by members of the Secretariat who chaired a number of seminar presentations. Members were represented by Lyn Boyd (Huddersfield), Paula Connaughton (Bolton), Sheila Curran (Open University), Paul Fenton (Nottingham) and Ian Jones (Bradford).

The conference included the launch of a book that presents outcomes from the Erasmus+ funded research project: The Impact of Youth Work in Europe: A Study of Five European Countries’, Edited by Jon Ord with Marc Carletti, Susan Cooper, Christophe Dansac, Daniele Morciano, Lasse Siurala and Marti Taru. PDF copies can be downloaded via the above link.

A web-portal has been published post-conference as an open access resource. This open resource has over 70 talks from 24 different countries that will be of value to members as teaching and learning tools; it also has access to the research project outcomes and to a learning resource.

Access the Transformative Youth Work open access resource via this link

Reflections from the Transformative Youth Work International Conference

By Ian Jones (Bradford College), Secretariat Member

Developing and Communicating the Impact of Youth Work: ERASMUS+ Funded Project:

The dissemination of the findings of the two and half year Erasmus+ research project provided a key and contemporary focus for such a wide audience in coming together to explore its findings at this conference. The diverse audience from an array of differing socio-political and cultural contexts created the environment for rich and compelling dialogue. Attendees came from far and wide, some as far as Japan, USA and Africa; as well as more localised delegates from across Europe.

‘Place and Space’ came to fore as Plymouth Marjon University - as the host and venue - offered both an educational/research ‘space’ but within an informal ‘place’ of the overall campus, facilities and surroundings.

The breadth of shared knowledge and practice across the seven key themes within the wider remit of the ‘evaluation and impact of youth work’ offered an umbrella of discussion points that addressed:

  1. Youth Work Settings and Participation

  2. Professional Identity

  3. .Partnership and Policy

  4. Critiques of Impact

  5. Youth Work Interventions

  6. Young People, Youth Work and Evidence

  7. Outcomes of Youth Work

The parallel sessions and key note speakers offered an array of differing perspectives based upon individual experiences and culminated in an overall message of the ‘impact of youth work’. I recommend visiting the open access resource to view the range of perspectives offered throughout the conference that are offer much to the ongoing narrative around evaluation and impact.

Networking and Collaborations:

The parallel sessions, informal spaces, refreshment breaks, lunch and evening meals, in addition to the on-site residence of delegates all enabled greater collaboration through initial greetings, discussions and dialogue. As a ‘participant observer’ both partaking in the conversations as well as observing others it was clear that professional alliances were formed in the universal belief that ‘youth work matters’ no matter what cultural context one is derived from.

Individual and collective representatives from a range of national and international HEI’s, NGO’s, statutory bodies, organisations, professional practitioners etc. offered a wide range of perspectives on youth work around the globe; sharing their roles, interpretations and impact within traditional models of youth work but also in the development of new initiatives.

Advocating for TAG:PALYCW concerns and interests:

Attending as representative from both an academic institution as well as a Secretariat member of the Association, as with other colleagues, presented itself the opportunity to champion the national debate of youth work in England. The roll that TAG:PALYCW is playing, along with others, in profiling the essence of youth work in the UK to our ‘global’ colleagues highlighted the value of engagement with this event and our presence at similar events across the sector.

Lasting thoughts…

Overall, the conference was an amazing experience with many highlights, too many to mention, but one not to be missed! The discussion, dialogue, learning, networking, and collaboration was evident in abundance. It was a conference from which so much could be taken away, reflected upon, drawn upon and utilised. A conference that has constructed its very own legacy in transformative youth work.